31 March, 2019

Risk by Anaïs Nin

And then the day came,
when the risk
to remain tight
in a bud
was more painful
than the risk
it took
to Blossom.

©Nick Bantock

29 March, 2019

Ask Al: Missing Shows

I realized recently that so many of my "Ask Al" questions come either from curious laymen, or artists who are either in training or embarking upon their careers. In other wordsnot from working professionals who are asking their colleague for support or insight. I exchange texts and emails (both asking and answering) with my friends and colleagues all the time, and I thought it might be interesting to hear about the cares and concerns of high-flying professionals and what concerns them on a daily basis.

In this instance, a friend in a Broadway musical reached out about missing performances due to illness. Many performers are flooded with guilt and shame, as well as fear and insecurity. What my friend and I worked through was a crucial part of self-love and acceptance, as well and, I believe, applicable to all professions.


 * * *

    Dear P(al), 

    I have the fate of laryngitis from this all-over-the-place weather. As a result, I’m missing shows and feel totally defeated and unworthy and just plain gutted. The shame of being given the enormous honor of leading a company, only to let down that company, the producers and the audience is a level of guilt I can't bear! Yet, without my voice, I can't do the job I have been tasked to.
    Can you tell me it’s ok to be sick? I feel as though these thoughts are keeping me from truly healing!

Love you,


    Oh, my friend.

    First things first— you are anything BUT unworthy. You are a beast of a performer, spirit, athlete, and artist. Illness happens to all of us for any number of reasons. It is not an indication of weakness or lack of commitment in any way. You’re sick. It’s not your fault. It’s not a crime.

    Second— missing shows is always hard because you’ve been tasked with a high honor that I know you revere. But if it is any help for a “re-frame” — I always like to think of the CHARACTER and what they need. Taking the pressure off of myself.

     “What does this character need from me to get her story told today?”


     “Am I the best person to tell her story today?”

— if the answer is no, then say:

     "I should step aside and allow someone else to take care of her story until I can return."
Because that outlook has the wisdom, maturity and ego-less energy of recognizing that this isn't about you and your fame or glory, it is ultimately about putting the character first, and that is the thinking of one's highest self.

    Finally — I know you (like so many of us) suffer from a mix of fierce ambition as well as imposter syndrome. I identify with that. I think moments like these can exacerbate that fear — the fear that somehow we don’t deserve these honors and opportunities we’ve fought and bled for. That somehow our luck is catching up with us and we’re going to be revealed as hacks.

That’s just your fear taking you hostage. It’s a liar.

    I love you so much.
    And I believe in you.
    And I’m really honored you trusted me with this.



    You. Are. Yoda.
    I cannot thank you enough for this. 

— "Them"

27 March, 2019

Backstage at BC/EFA's Broadway Backwards

Sharing a dressing room at the New Amsterdam with Robyn Hurder and Bonnie Milligan:
©Michael Kushner
Preparing for "Louise" in "All I Need is the Girl" opposite Robyn Hurder as Tulsa.
©Michael Kushner
Robyn Hurder and I only take frameable photos. One of the greatest nights of my life.
A beautiful scene for a beautiful cause.

with Robyn Hurder ©Michael Kushner

15 March, 2019

Journal Prompts 1 — Lists

“The life of every man is a diary in which he means to write one story, and writes another; and his humblest hour is when he compares the volume as it is with what he vowed to make it.” — J.M. Barrie

A pen coupled with paper can serve as a powerful life tool.

Journaling (or keeping letters or diaries) is an ancient tradition, one that dates back to at least 10th century Japan. Successful people throughout history have kept journals. Presidents have maintained them for posterity; other famous figures for their own purposes. Oscar Wilde infamously said: “I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read on the train.”

All you need is a piece of paper and a writing implement. (Although some people nowadays use their computers or even wonderful journaling apps. But you could use an 18th-century mini chalkboard too. If that’s your thing. Whatever works for you.)


How To Begin Journaling
Your journaling will be most effective if you do it daily for about 20 minutes. Begin anywhere, and forget spelling and punctuation. Privacy is key if you are to write without censor. Write quickly, as this frees your brain from “shoulds” and other blocks to successful journaling. If it helps, pick a theme for the day, week or month (for example, peace of mind, confusion, change or anger). The most important rule of all is that there are no rules.

I dare say that journaling is one of the most important things to do in your life. If done effectively, it will change everything in your life for the better.
You’ll become the person you want to be.
You’ll design the life you want to live.
Your relationships will be healthier and happier.
You’ll be more productive and powerful.


Prompt: Create Lists

You can create lists of many things, such as the following:

    •    Places you’ve enjoyed visiting.
    •    Things you’ve done that you previously thought you could never do.
    •    The people you most admire.
    •    Your favorite books.
    •    Your favorite movies.
    •    Your favorite songs.
    •    Your top five short term goals.
    •    Your top five long term goals.

02 March, 2019

I've Been: Winter 2018/19

  • playing Titania in A Midsummer Night's Dream
  • hosting the Chicago edition of The Hanukkah Hoedown!
  • feeling more lonely than I ever have in all my life
  • wondering why some people are absolute jerks
  • letting go
  • accepting
  • endeavoring to reveal my inner self
  • Writing writing wrting...
  • freezing my ass off in Chicago
  • "Chicago-ing"(at Steppenwolf, the Art Institute, IO Improv night, Magnificent Mile and many more wonders)

  • baking paleo bread
  • participating in a really interesting and genre-busting play-reading of The Block Association Project with a phenomenal group of talents

  •  So Sad Today: Personal Essays by Melissa Broder 
  •  The Nightengale's Sonata
  • The Big New Yorker Book of Cats
  • New Family Values by Andrew Solomon
  • The Night Watch by Sarah Waters
  • Why You Are Who You Are from The Great Courses
  • The Disappearing Spoon by Sam Kean
  • Dare to Lead by Brené Brown
  • My sisters!
  • Daring Greatly by Brené Brown

  • recording a cut song from Fiddler on the Roof titled 'Marry for Love' (which was ultimately replaced by 'Matchmaker') with Roslaind Harris and Neva Small (Tzeitel and Chava from the Fiddler motion picture, respectively!)
    with Rosalind Harris and Neva Small
  • hosting friends from far away (both named Alexandra)
  • reuniting with my Fiddler family at 54 Below!
  • re-connecting with old friends who live locally!
  • hanging with MamaSilbs
  • and (shockingly, surprisingly... in THE most unlikely of places and circumstances) falling in love... 

Him. <3


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